Making employee referrals work

By: | Published: December 21, 2015 12:17 AM

Having the highest interview-to-hire ratio, referrals are the most productive sourcing channel

Any organisation thrives on the complex networks and relationships of its various entities, both internal and external. These relationships go a long way in defining the health and future of the organisation. The whole philosophy of making these relationships work is central to the designing of an effective employee referral programme. Such a programme holds relevance for the organisation as well as for employees. It allows employee participation in the hiring process and dictates the course which the organisation would take in the future.

People are the most important asset to an organisation. Aptly described by NR Narayana Murthy, “Our assets walk out of the door each evening. We have to make sure that they come back the next morning.” Any hiring strategy needs to encompass the subtleties of the organisation culture as well as focus on exploring and hiring the right talent using various sourcing mechanisms. The employee referral programme wins hands down as it leverages the biggest asset of any organisation, in understanding the need and identifying the best-fit talent.

In this era of social inclusivity, the growth of social media has enabled every employee to become a brand ambassador for the organisation she works for. For example, at Infosys, employees contribute and help fulfil a significant percentage of Infosys’s lateral hiring requirements. It’s a remarkable achievement of our flagship referral programme called ConnectInfy.

There are several benefits of an effective employee referral programme.

Fertile ground, golden harvest: It’s no secret referrals have the highest interview-to-hire ratio, making these the most productive sourcing channel.

The flood & the drought: IT hiring encompasses a wide array of skills and complexities. While the bulk of hiring is for generic skills such as Java and .NET, the complexities go up due to the sheer scale on which this hiring is done. On the other hand, there is a whole spectrum of skills which are both niche and hard to hire for. Across organisations, the challenge is to hire the “bread and butter” requirements and balance the same with hiring niche skills which would add value to specific delivery lines. The wide spectrum of skills which are hired makes employee participation all the more important.

Hit the ground running: In an industry as diverse as IT, with more than 9,000 skills to hire for, it’s always a win-win scenario when a candidate is able to connect with an employee and have a deeper understanding of the role for which she is being evaluated. For example, ConnectInfy allows a pre-application engagement of a candidate with an employee, ensuring only interested and relevant profiles apply. This gains higher significance for niche skills where the talent pool available is limited. The referrer plays a dual role of being the source as well as being the brand ambassador for the organisation. Employees interact with their referrals post the evaluation process to sensitise them about the organisation’s culture. This experience makes the referrals more informed and prepares them for the entire transition process into a new organisation.

The fantasy league: Any quality-hire is a value-add for the organisation. An employee referral programme is a better bet for hiring the best-fit talent both from the aptitude as well as attitude perspective. It de-risks the evaluation process, as it allows the referrer to contribute to the hiring process by selecting a suitable profile with the right motivation level and required skills for the job. This dual filtration process—one at the referrer level and another at the interview stage—significantly improves the quality of hiring, making referrals better performers on the job than hires from any other source.

Happier workplace: The entire philosophy of referring your friends and having an opportunity to work with people whom you have a deeper connect with creates a motivated workforce and an invigorating environment at the workplace.

An employee referral programme is a product of a socially-inclusive generation. Technology has enabled people get in touch with their most distant and geographically-remote friends. People continuously add to their network by connecting with digital avatars of people whom they meet in their regular walks of life. These associations help them gauge people in terms of their competence. Leveraging this to create more competent teams within an organisation is a symbiotic scenario.

Varadharaj Venkataraman is AVP, senior geo lead, Talent Acquisition; Ravi Bajpai is practice lead,
Talent Acquisition, Infosys

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